Renovation Island: Paradise in Progress & The Eye of the Storm

With just two months until the planned opening of the restored Caerula Mar resort, construction challenges continue for Bryan and Sarah Baumler — but things are beginning to fall into place for a successful launch including completion of the four beachfront signature villas. Hurricane Dorian, howerver, has some surprises in store.

Photo By: John Queenan

Photo By: John Queenan

Photo By: John Queenan

Photo By: John Queenan

Photo By: John Queenan

Photo By: John Queenan

Photo By: John Queenan

Photo By: John Queenan

Photo By: John Queenan

Photo By: John Queenan

Photo By: John Queenan

Photo By: John Queenan

Photo By: John Queenan

Photo By: John Queenan

Photo By: John Queenan

Blue Skies and Smooth Sailing

“We’re just two months away from soft opening," says Bryan Baeumler. "So far, we’ve completed three of the 22 villas on the property, and finishes on the hotel rooms [in the main hotel block] are underway."

Critical Mass

The pool area is now complete, but the clubhouse is still under construction. "Finishing that, along with the gym and spa," says Bryan, "will ensure that our guests have the amenities they expect."

The Main Block

Work continues on the main hotel rooms, including installation of a/c units and interior improvements to the individual rooms.

Tropical Flora

A crew member tends the new landscaping in preparation for the resort's soft opening.

Tropical Fauna

The curly-tailed lizard (Leiocephalus carinatus, et al) is group of lizards native to the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic as well nearby small islands. A distinctive display behavior characteristic of members in these species is to lift and curl the tail when a potential predator is present.

Cerulean Blue

The Bahamian seas and sky present a never-ending visual spectacle.

It's Better in the Bahamas

Staff Meeting

Bryan pulls together the Canadian construction crews along with the local employees s in order to review a punch-list of the main outstanding priorities.

All Hands on Deck

Close coordination is critical at this point to ensure efficiency under the approaching deadlines for the opening and soft launch.

The Launch Before the Launch

Sarah and the staff accepted a special reservation for a small onsite wedding prior to the facility's complete and official re-opening. That event will effectively serve as the resort's soft launch. "They booked all four signature villas and signature rooms in the hotel block," says Sarah, "so we absolutely have to have those spaces ready for them."

Up On the Roof

Bryan and project manager Adam tackle some maintenance issues on the roof of the main hotel block. Leakage and moisture was discovered beneath the metal roof in portions of the oceanfront side. Encroaching moisture is forming in dead spaces and behind the vinyl wallpaper in some of the rooms — a situation which could lead to serious potential damage.

Up On the Roof

Adam cuts out sections of the roof to access and removed moisture-damaged wood decking.

Up On the Roof

Bryan and Adam install a venting system to help remove moisture and humidity from the attic spaces beneath the roof.

Up On the Roof

The venting system employs solar-powered fans for each of the vents located above each of the main hotel units, ensuring a continuous flow of air.

Crisis Averted

Bryan check the status of the new venting system, check the condition of the interior drywall and measure interior humidity to ensure that the system is operating properly. 'I think that we’ve caught the problem early enough," says Bryan. "It's couple of steps backward, but it’s better to catch it now than six months from now."

Home Stretch

With one month and 20 days until opening, major projects have been successfully completed and critical elements of the resort restoration are nearling completion.

A Not-So-Blue Lagoon

One of Bryan and Sarah's pet peeves throughout the rstoration has been this stagnant pond in close proximity to some of the villas.

Drain the Pond (An Apolitical Initiative)

The pond is filled with stagnant water and clogged with an overgrowth of algae and moss, creating an unsightly visual. Correcting the problem, however, may be a logistical challenge. "As much as I’ve been resisting it," says Bryan, "I think I just need to just drain the swamp."

Draining the Pond

The water gets pumped over a berm to an adjacent area where it will simply be absorbed into the limestone and sand, eliminating the unwanted landscape feature.

Filling the Pool

"One of the kids’ favorite places on the island," observes Bryan, "is in our pool. They’re in our pool all the time. I’m pretty sure they have gills." At the moment, however, the Baeumler kids wait as the pool's water chemistry gets tested."

Aquatic Dynamics

Maintaining a chlorinated pool in an environment with temperature extremes and frequent heavy rainfall can be technically challenging. Mario, the pool technician, explains that the pool system installed incorporates a saltwater pool with a chlorine generator. An automated system tests and monitors the water chemistry and makes adjustments to the chemicals as needed. Moments after this photo, the Baeumler kids got the all-clear to go back in the water.

The Whims of Nature

Just about a month prior the planned opening of Caerula Mar, Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas causing extensive damage, particularly to Great Abaco and Grand Bahamas islands — with wind damage and entire neighborhoods completely submerged by flooding. The storm was ranked as one of the two most severe Atlantic hurricanes to ever make landfall. Sarah Bryan and the kids were actually in Canada at the time that the hurricane hit the Bahamas. The family returned just after the devastation.

Heavy Weather

Palm trees around the grounds of the resort were braced and reinforced in hopes of helping to minimize damage from high-velocity winds.

Heavy Weather

Bryan and Sarah returned a few days after the hurricane, not knowing exactly what to expect. Though South Andros and the resort were spared from the more serious damage, 40 or so of their employees and crew members were personally impacted, with immediate family members bringing the total to more than 70.

Crossroads

"I don’t know how it can feel right to continue with construction right now," said Sarah, "when it’s the last thing on my mind."

Crossroads

Bryan and Sarah struggled with the decision of whether to move forward with work for the opening or to put the entire project on hold.

A Way Forward

With the resort and the island of Andros relatively intact, in the aftermath of the storm Bryan and Sarah helped out in the overarching cause by setting up a fundraising page and initiative to help victims of the hurricane and with local relief efforts.

A Way Forward

Ultimately the Baeumlers felt that it would more advantageous to move ahead with the project and to keep their crew employed while simultaneously contributing to the overall island relief efforts via their fundraising.

After the Storm

With one month and seven days until the opening, work resumes on the renovation AT Caerula Mar.

The Villas

Three villas had been completed at this point. The goal was to finish at least one more before the soft opening.

The Anchor Elements

Concurrent with the completion of villa #4, work resumed on the completion of the main hotel rooms, the clubhouse, gym and spa building.

Prime Location

Specific preparations continued with a focus on the wedding scheduled as the resort's christening event. All work would need to be completed on the signature beachfront rooms in the main hotel block.

Crunch Time

"The pressure is on," said Sarah. "There is now way to cancel, of course, on this wedding couple." Since the wedding dinner was to be held in the main clubhouse, the entire bar and Lusca restaurant would need to be completed as well. But the main focus at this point for Sarah ia the completion and staging of Villa Number Four and final staging on the other signature villa suites.

Completing the Signature Villa Suites

Villa Four is the last of our signature villas that are beachfront, and it's been a battle, so the knowledge that the signature collection is complete I think is something Sarah can be really proud of.
—Bryan Baeumler

Final Staging

Sarah testing out the blinds in Villa Four,

Villa Four, Before

Villa Four, After

I’m actually really happy with this villa because it came together rather effortlessly.
—Sarah Baeumler

Villa Four, Detail

"The hanging elements, for me, are probably one of my favorite elements in this space," says Sarah. "I fell in love with these a long time ago in New York on a trip there. I didn’t know the home for them at the time, but I think they’ve found their proper place here at Caerula Mar."

Villa Four, Detail

Villa Four, Bath

"I think we nailed the bathroom layout." says Bryan. "The new showers are incredible; setting apart the water closet is great ... the dressing area, the storage area."

Villa Suites

Villa Suites

Seeing all four of the villas of the signature collection complete, I think we’ve nailed each one.
—Sarah

Villa Suites

"Originally we had the closet sort of tucked back where the bar is now," says Sarah. "Instead we put in the huge built-in cabinetry and all the millwork in the bathroom."

Villa Suites, Bath

"The finishes of each look a little bit different," says Sarah. "But the overall aesthetic feels cohesive and like you’re in the same hotel."

Villa Suites, Bath

Villa Suites, Bath

Villa Suites, Detail

Villa Suites, Detail

Villa Suites, Detail

Villa Suites, Detail

Villa Suites, Detail

Villa Suites, Detail

Villa Suites, Detail

Villa Suites, Detail

Villa Suites, Detail

Villa Suites, Detail

Villa Suites, Detail

Villa Suites, Detail

The Adventure Continues

Keep checking back at 'Renovation Island Central' for more new galleries, articles, updates and video documenting this epic island adventure.

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